A new helicopter being developed by Bell has crashed near the community of Italy in Ellis County, just off Interstate 35E, while participating in test operations, Texas officials say. Both crew members were killed.
The accident happened at about 11:45 a.m. CT on Wednesday when the Bell 525 aircraft went down in south Ellis County, in the area of Farm to Market 876 and Bell Branch Road, which is just northwest of Italy. The aircraft then burst into flames and was completely destroyed.
Bell Helicopter confirmed in a statement that the helicopter was conducting "developmental flight test operations" from its Xworx site in Arlington when the aircraft went down. The helicopter was reportedly flying in formation with two other helicopters.
County officials said two people were killed in the crash but provided no other information, and there was no word on their identities. Lynn Lunsford, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said a total of two people were on board the aircraft.
The Bell 525 Relentless is under development by Bell Helicopter and made its first test flight in July 2015. The aircraft is capable of carrying up to 20 passengers, has a maximum cruise speed of 162 knots and a maximum flying range of 570 nautical miles.
"FAA investigators are on their way to the accident site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified," Lunsford said. Details about the possible cause of the crash were not immediately known.
"Bell Helicopter representatives are headed to the site to assess the situation and provide any assistance to local, state, and federal authorities," the aircraft manufacturer said in a brief statement. "We will provide additional updates as we learn more."